World food prices climb in April 2019, says FAO


Global food prices rose in April to their highest level in almost a year, led up by meat and dairy prices, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly traded food commodities, averaged 170 points in April, up 1.5 per cent from March while still 2.3 per cent below its year-ago level.

The increase spanned all the covered food commodities except cereals, where large export availabilities spurred a fourth consecutive monthly decline.

The FAO Cereal Price Index dipped 2.8 per cent, led by wheat and maize – for which the production outlooks are positive – while rice quotations were broadly stable.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose 5.2 per cent from March, its fourth consecutive monthly increase, amid robust global import demand combined with supply concerns linked to dry weather in Oceania.

The FAO Meat Price Index increased by 3.0 per cent, led by a sharp jump in international price quotations of pig meat due to a surge in import demand in Asia – primarily in China, where the rapid spread of African Swine Fever has triggered a sharp fall in domestic production. Also bovine, poultry and ovine meat prices all firmed.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Index also rose, by 0.9 per cent. Palm oil quotations rebounded somewhat due to rising global demand and inventory drawdowns in the major exporting countries, while soy oil prices notched up due primarily to robust domestic demand in the United States from both the biodiesel and food sectors. The FAO Sugar Price Index rose 0.8 per cent. The increase was largely driven by firmer crude oil prices, as higher energy prices encourage the use of sugarcane in Brazil to produce ethanol for local sale.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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